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Gangnam copies raise creativity concerns

By  Xu Chi   (Shanghai Daily)

09:21, October 11, 2012

(file photo)

With the South Korean single "Gangnam Style" and its music video proving a worldwide sensation, Chinese fans have been busy creating their own "Chinese Style" versions.

On Youku.com, one of China's biggest media websites, more than 4,000 videos filmed at schools, in parks and even at weddings were uploaded shortly after the single by 34-year-old rapper Psy topped both the US and UK charts.

The most popular version, featuring young women wearing bikinis and half-naked men shouting "Chinese Style!" has been viewed more than 9.26 million times on the site - about four times as many as the original.

The original video features Psy performing a comical horse-riding dance in various locations around Seoul's Gangnam district.

In some videos filmed at universities, students can be seeing doing their "invisible horse dance" in elevators, shocking teachers and other passers-by.

But the Chinese copies seem to have attracted more criticism than praise, raising the question as to why South Korea can produce such a popular musical export, while China can only copy it.

"Does the nation have nothing to show the world proudly so they simply changed the word 'Gangnam' into 'China' to make the single their own creation?" was one online comment.

Another said: "Actually I felt strange to hear the Chinese lyrics and see the half-naked girls. Why are we always following the trend, mocking others and making good shanzhai copies, instead of creating excellent ones?"

"Shanzhai" refers to China's infamous counterfeit products, mostly copies of popular items such as iPhones.

Gu Xiaoming, a sociologist and professor at Fudan University, said the trend of copying others was predictable in the current cultural environment in China which, he said, did little to encourage creativity.

"The dance is very easy to learn, some of the lyrics can be memorized easily, and the singer has a kind and homely appearance, which all drive Chinese people to participate and create their own versions," said Gu.

Gu compared the "invisible horse dance" to the traditional Chinese waist drum dance, but he said the latter would not achieve worldwide popularity as it was difficult to learn.

He said that television programs for children concentrated on showing them the adult world, often in ancient times, rather than instilling in them a desire to be original and creative.

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